Former President George H.W. Bush no longer in intensive care

Posted at 5:13 PM, Dec 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-29 19:13:20-05

(CNN) — Former President George H.W. Bush was moved Saturday out of the intensive care unit of the Houston hospital where he has been for more than a month.

“President Bush’s condition has improved, so he has been moved today from the intensive care unit to a regular patient room at The Methodist Hospital to continue his recovery,” his office said in a statement distributed by spokesman Jim McGrath.

Bush was moved to the intensive care unit last Sunday as doctors worked to control “a stubborn fever,” McGrath said at the time. He was listed at the time in guarded condition.

Bush was initially hospitalized with bronchitis and remained in the hospital for a lingering cough. He was admitted from November 7 through 9, then returned on November 23. He has remained at the hospital since. Before his ICU admission, Bush was undergoing physical therapy as doctors prepared to have him home for Christmas.

While in the intensive care unit, Bush was on a liquid diet. It was not immediately clear on Saturday whether he remained on that modified diet.

On Friday, McGrath signaled that the former president was improving.

“The president is alert and, as always, in good spirits – and his exchanges with doctors and nurses now include singing. The Bushes thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes and, like their doctors, are cautiously optimistic that the current course of treatment will be effective.”

That same day, Bush took a call from one of his favorite bands: the Oak Ridge Boys.

The gospel-turned-country crooners returned from their vacation, members said, to serenade the former president by phone at the request of former first lady Barbara Bush.

“We asked what song he would like to hear and he said, ‘Elvira,’ so we blasted some oom pop a mau mau’s in the direction of Houston, Texas,” band member Joe Bonsall said.

Bush’s office said the performance “gave the president a real shot in the arm as he, thankfully, continues to improve.”

Jean Becker, Bush’s chief of staff, sent supporters a note on Thursday with reassurances that the former president’s condition is not dire.

“Is he sick? Yes. Does he plan on going anywhere soon? No. He has every intention of staying put,” Becker wrote. “He would ask me to tell you to please put the harps back in the closet.”

Bush’s health care in Houston is “unequaled anywhere” she wrote, asking supporters to “keep him and the family in your prayers.

“I am thinking heaven has not seen such a barrage of prayer intentions since ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,'” she wrote, referring to the classic holiday movie.

McGrath, the spokesman, told CNN on Wednesday morning that Bush’s “mood is relentlessly positive and includes humorous banter with his doctor.”

On Christmas, Bush was visited by members of his family including his wife, and his son, former President George W. Bush, was expected to visit the hospital later.

At 88, Bush is the oldest living former president; he is four months older than former President Jimmy Carter.

By CNN Political Unit
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